Nicolas Maduro has deployed a social media apparatus, coordinated by current and former government officials — including several who are under U.S. sanctions — to preserve his hold on power amid a challenge from Juan Guaido.
The government’s self-described “digital militia,” which was active Tuesday amid the latest challenge to Maduro’s power, drives government-sponsored hashtags, intended to bolster Maduro and undermine his opponents, to the top of Twitter’s “trending topics” for Venezuela.
The messaging strategy may particularly resonate in Venezuela, where an estimated 44 percent of Venezuelans were active social media users as of January 2018, according to a survey by HootSuite.
A focal point in Maduro’s social media influence effort is Tuiteros Patriotas, a Twitter account affiliated with Maduro’s ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV). The account was established in November 2015, according to a report by the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab.